When Talat, a Muslim fanatic,is tormented by nightmares, he turns to a psychiatrist for help. While under hypnosis, he discovers that he lived in the fifteenth century as Rabbi Shimon, a Chassidic Jew, in ancient Samarkand, the capital of Uzbekistan, led by Mongol conqueror Tamerlane.
After learning of his previous life, Talat looses desire to live. He learns that Uzbek's nationalists, led by his father are planning to kill Jews and other minorities who are trying to flee from ethnic turmoil of Samarkand. Now he finds himself between two decisions, disregarding the situation or taking the chance to save peoples live.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)|
About the Author
Arkady resides in Toronto,Ontario working on another book.
Read an Excerpt
By Arkady Povzikov
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Arkady Povzikov
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAs cool evening tempered the heat of that July day in Samarkand, Kalid was about to go into his little courtyard to take the perfumed air. Two hours remained before darkness; he would sit comfortably in his lounge chair and, enjoying a large glass of beer, lose himself in his reading, a simple pleasure, fated not to occur. As his wristwatch read eight o'clock, he heard an unexpected knock at the entrance door. Only a few acquaintances intruded into his bachelor's life, and they always telephoned in advance. At this hour, it could only be an uninvited stranger. In the past few years, there had been too many of them in Samarkand, and no good could be expected from them.
The knock came again. Kalid's heart beat a little faster, something disturbed him. Premonition? Nonsense! Yet his legs trembled slightly as he went to the door, opened it, and found a young man standing outside. He was of average height, and about twenty-five or twenty-seven-years old. There was nothing remarkable about him except his eyes, which were large and black, and gleamed piercingly from under thick eyebrows.
"Good evening, Doctor," he said.
"Good evening," Kalid answered warily. Since he had retired from psychiatry, only his neighbors and friends continued to call him Doctor.
"What can I do for you?"
The stranger's thin lips rose in an uncomfortable smile, but the eyes that stared out over his high cheekbones remained serious.
"My name is Talat Nurieff. Does that mean anything to you?"
Kalid gazed at the young man. If he had met him before, he would surely remember those eyes. Nurieff was a common name in Uzbekistan. "I don't think we've met, perhaps you have the wrong address. There is another doctor who lives not too far away ..."
"Your name is Kalid Sheriff, isn't it?"
"Then there's no mistake. I came to see you about a personal matter." He looked around as if afraid someone would hear him. "May I come in?"
Although Kalid was not afraid of this stranger, he didn't really want to be alone with him. What business could he have with me?
"You have nothing to fear from me, Doctor. I really must speak with you."
He didn't look like a criminal, but he also didn't inspire any feelings of trust. Besides, what do I have to lose? If he wants to rob me, he's out of luck-my house is empty, Kalid thought. He showed the man into his former office, gestured to a chair facing the desk and turned on the table lamp.
"Please sit down. If you don't mind, I'll open the window. It is such a beautiful evening."
Kalid was subconsciously aware that he was testing his uninvited guest in case he had something underhanded in mind. An opened window was a means of escape. "Go ahead, I'm listening." he said.
As the man named Talat struck a match and lit a cigarette, Kalid noted that his wrinkled suit and shirt were long past new. His hand shook slightly when he removed the cigarette, curling his fingers around to hide it, a habit of careful and secretive people. He inhaled nervously.
"I have a problem, Doctor."
"You want to see me as a psychiatrist?"
"But I haven't practiced for five years now."
"What a difference does it make?"
"You said your name is ..."
"You see, Talat, it is a big difference. I'm old, I forget things, I get facts mixed up. I know several psychiatrists who could help you."
"I don't need any other doctors," Talat said flatly. It was evident that he was not going to leave. The psychiatrist's professional curiosity stirred.
"All right. Why did you choose me?"
"Because I trust you."
"Well, thank you."
"I heard that you practiced in an unusual field- the transmigration of souls, or as they say now, reincarnation?"
Few knew of Kalid's strange interest. Mysticism was far from a favorite subject in Samarkand, formerly part of the former Soviet Union.
"Where did you get this information?" Kalid asked.
"From my mother."
"From your mother? And who is your mother? What is her name?"
The doctor flinched.
"I see that the name is familiar to you?"
Kalid stared, wordless, his eyes glazed in shock.
Nazira! No, it was not possible ... and yet ...
Talat smiled. "I see that you don't believe me. Take a look at this." He opened the collar of his shirt, removed a chain from around his neck, and held out a small gold locket.
Fumbling, Kalid opened it, and Nazira's lustrous eyes gazed out at him.
"Where did you get this?" he breathed.
"My mother gave it to me."
"Your mother ... How is she?"
Kalid's chest tightened. He lowered himself heavily into his chair.
"Are you all right, Doctor?"
"She said she knew you very well. You wouldn't happen to be my real father, would you?"
"Your father!" Kalid chocked out the words. "What are you talking about?" Talat grinned. "I understand your feelings. It's probably not very pleasant to have a son like me. I didn't inherit my mother's good looks. As they say: "The toadstool sprang up between the two beautiful roses."
His laugh was harsh and humorless which made Kalid nervous. Certainly this was not an attractive young man. He took a deep breath to compose himself.
"No, you are not my son," he said. "But you are right. I knew your mother very well."
"How well?" Kalid caught the taunt and said angrily, "You can stop right now. Don't you dare defile her memory."
Talat's mouth clamped shut, he lowered his head, and a silence ensued. Kalid did not know how to break it.
Is he making this up, or has he heard rumors about me and Nazira? But how?
He hadn't seen her for at least thirty years and even then, no one knew of their relationship except for her fiancé, Ibrahim. Now here was a young man claiming to be Nazira's son.
Talat broke the silence. "Many years ago, you attempted to help my mother, but certain circumstances - my so-called father, Ibrahim- got in your way."
So Talat knew of events that had occurred before his birth. He was Nazira's son. Kalid stared at the locket. He could not send him away because of those eyes in the picture, which had remained with him all those thirty years.
"Let me think," he pleaded. "I'll try to help you, but please leave now and come back tomorrow.
* * *
Talat's departing footsteps and his voice, "See you tomorrow," echoed from somewhere far away. Kalid sat still, his eyes on the locket. In his mind, the years, like dominoes, tumbled one after the other, taking him back.
Nazira ... He closed his eyes and saw her as she stood before him thirty years ago as a young woman who had just finished school. She was small, slender, and perfectly formed. Her movements were fluid and feminine. She was a patient in his office; her unusual beauty was no concern of his.
She straightened her dress like a schoolgirl, smoothing it down with her palm, and then she ran her hand through her long, thick, black hair. Her gray eyes, framed by heavy eyelashes, looked out at him shyly, but with curiosity. Her uneasiness could be felt in everything she did, and was both amusing and touching to watch.
He had a growing feeling that her face was familiar. After several minutes, he was certain that he once knew her, and he tried to remember from where and when.
"Have we met before?" he asked.
"I don't thing so," Nazira smiled. "But I've seen your picture in the newspaper, two years ago, when you worked with the police on that famous kidnapping case."
That did not answer the question.
"The newspaper is one thing, but other than that, are you sure that we've never met? I have a strong feeling that we have." Her eyes shone with the openness of youth. In those eyes, Kalid could see that she liked him. Nazira continued to smile shyly, as if apologizing for not knowing him previously.
"I have the same feeling," she said, "but I don't think so."
Kalid nodded. "You probably remind me of someone else." But inside, he was convinced that there was no one else. Somehow, he knew this young woman extremely well. The attraction between the doctor and the patient was decidedly wrong. He settled deep into his chair, adopted a deliberately serious expression, and opened a file folder.
"Can I please have your surname and your given name?"
He felt warmth in his chest, and then caught himself. What's happening here? I'm supposed to be thirty-five years old, and I'm behaving like a schoolboy.
"Let's get to your problem." He tried to sound businesslike. Her smile vanished. She became flustered, and blushed.
"I don't even know where to begin ..."
He was firm. "From the beginning, of course. Surely, this isn't the first time you've come to see a doctor?"
"You aren't a doctor. You're a psychiatrist."
Now Nazira looked like a frightened child, and this ruined Kalid's serious manner. He stood up, walked to her, and put his hands on her shoulders-something that he never permitted himself to do with any patient, much less with a woman A physician should control himself and order his thoughts. This permitted him to judge the mental condition of his patient and offer a prognosis.
But it didn't work with Nazira. What he wanted was to caress her, so he justified this desire by telling himself that the touch of his fingers would give her reassurance. Yet as soon as he ran his finger down her neck and felt her smooth skin and the soft hair on the back of her head, an electric shock passed through his body.
"Please, don't be disturbed," he said, trying to hide the tremor in his voice. "You don't have to be afraid of me. You came for help, and that is what I am here for. Please relax."
It was Kalid who needed to relax. He took a deep breath, held it, and then slowly exhaled. That didn't help; his heart still pounded.
I must stay away from her. But he didn't move. Trying to sound calm, he continued, "You seem to be under a strain, and naturally, your problems appear bigger and more frightening than they are in reality."
Nazira leaned her head back slightly. Kalid sensed his touch pleased her, and his heart beat even faster.
"I have been under a strain for a long time," she said.
"For several months, at least."
"Do you know the reason for this strain?"
"I'm getting married."
Kalid abruptly withdrew his hand. She looked at him in surprise. He smiled awkwardly.
"It's a sufficiently serious reason, but there is nothing clinically adverse about it. People are generally under stress when they take such an important step in their lives," he said pompously. He remained standing behind her chair, so that she would not see his disappointment. What was happening with him? His behavior was contrary to the principles of medical ethics, but his heart would not listen to ethics or even common sense. This young woman aroused him as no one had before, and the fact that she was getting married pained him deeply.
Afraid that this behavior had offended her, he walked over to his desk and sat down; her eyes told him that she did not understand this sudden change in his manner.
"You must forgive me. This has been a heavy day. Please, let us continue. So, you're getting married, and, of course, you've known your future husband from childhood." For some reason, he was sure of this.
"Since the first grade," she answered, looking at him guardedly. "We graduated from school together."
"Good." His professional calm eluded him. Instead of letting her talk about herself, he asked questions.
"Do you love him?" Although his eyes were on the paper in front of him, he observed her surreptitiously. He was pleased that she didn't answer immediately.
"I loved him ..."
"I don't know."
In a lighter tone, he asked, "And is that your problem?"
"Could you explain?"
He listened with a strange feeling of pleasure as she described the fury and brutality of Ibrahim, her fiancé.
"Just another patient life story, isn't it, Doctor? I'm sure you've heard plenty of them."
"Because of their inexperience, young people often make mistakes and jump to conclusions," Kalid suggested diplomatically. "But what has your fiancé done specifically that has brought about such a change in your relations with him?"
"Ibrahim nearly beat his best friend to death ... because of me. Actually, because of his jealousy over me."
"Is he really that jealous?"
"You mean did I give him any reason to be jealous?"
"I didn't mean anything, but we are all human."
The unspoken question obviously offended her; she pressed her lips together and raised her head with pride she had not displayed before.
"Why do all men always think that it is the woman's fault?"
"You misunderstood me, I'm sorry. I should not have asked that question. It's simply that, because of your beauty ..."
"It's up to you, Doctor, whether you believe me or not. My fiancé did not have the slightest reason to do what he did. These jealous rages have occurred again and again. At first, I told myself it was because he loved me so much, but the last time, if I hadn't grabbed his arm, Ibrahim would have stabbed him; I don't know where I found the strength."
Kalid looked at her in new admiration. "You are a courageous woman."
"Is that really courage? Courage is making a decision, and I still haven't left Ibrahim. Somebody else in my position would have decided to leave and put an end to this. But me ..."
"What about you?" What's keeping you from going? Are you afraid he'll kill you?"
"No, I'm not afraid. You can't escape what is fated to happen, but I am troubled by something more disturbing." She sighed deeply. "I hope it won't make you think I'm crazy ..."
"Please don't worry about that. I am a doctor, and I'll try to understand. Please feel completely free to tell me about it."
"Do you believe in life after death? Reincarnation as somebody else?"
The question was so unexpected and direct that it shook Kalid. Did he believe in transmigration of souls? How many times had he asked himself the same question and found no answer. Could he even speak openly about what in the Soviet Union was regarded as a fantasy of the capital world?
Nazira watched him patiently, and he knew that she would not accept an evasive answer. But that was all he could offer her.
"The subject is studied in the West," he began carefully. "Here, unfortunately ..."
He spread his hands helplessly. "If you want to know my opinion, then-and this is between us-I am inclined to ... How to say it ... I would like to believe in it."
Nazira relaxed. "I'm so glad," she said deliberately. "I believe in reincarnation. I don't care what anyone else says. I am absolutely certain that I have lived before."
Perhaps that is where we've met. Kalid smiled to himself, and then suddenly shuddered. Perhaps it was.
"Are you bothered by dreams? Do you have nightmares?"
"Yes, and always the same one. I don't recognize the place or the time. I see myself being killed at a young age, and I know that this was my punishment because I betrayed the man who loved me more than anything on Earth."
Kalid thought for a moment. "Is that why you are afraid to break away from Ibrahim?"
"I don't know," Nazira gestured powerlessly. "But what am I saying? Of course, I know. That dream is the main reason I'm afraid to make another mistake. I have this feeling that I've committed a grave sin somewhere at sometime. It's too much. I'm suffocating, and I have to get out ... I was told that you helped someone ... that is ... Could you help me, Doctor?" Hope and fear mingled in her eyes.
Kalid felt weak. So she knew about the "someone." "I would like to know whether all this is the fruit of my sick imagination," she continued, "or whether it really happened to me in a previous life, and I am paying for it now."
Kalid gestured to her to lower her voice. "I haven't helped anyone in that way. I have used hypnosis as a treatment, but only that. Furthermore, it was all unofficial. You know how they regard that here in the clinic."
Excerpted from The Purpose by Arkady Povzikov Copyright © 2010 by Arkady Povzikov. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.